The nationwide push for healthcare worker safety: 6 updates

Amid violence against healthcare workers, hospitals, health systems and states across the U.S. are making efforts to address the issue. These efforts range from a new code of conduct policy to legislation that increases penalties for people convicted of battery of a healthcare provider.

Here are six updates from 2023: 

1. After a nurse of its own was attacked, Rhode Island Hospital in Providence launched an anti-violence campaign. The Lifespan Health-owned facility launch its #ScottStrong campaign Oct. 19 to promote safety. 

2. The Connecticut Hospital Association announced Oct. 20 that it has adopted a code of conduct policy for patients and families. The policy prohibits aggressive or violent behavior against healthcare workers, including physical assaults, threats or abusive language; discriminatory language; "language or actions that may be perceived as sexual harassment"; and possession of weapons.

3. Hospital leaders in Central New York joined together to launch a new workplace violence prevention initiative called Respect and Heal. The campaign aims to ensure healthcare workers are treated in a safe and respectful manner.

4. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly ceremonially signed a bill June 8 to increase the criminal penalties for people convicted of battery of a healthcare provider. The law amends the crime of battery to define battery against a healthcare provider as "a battery committed against a healthcare provider while such provider is engaged in the performance of such provider's duty." 

5. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill May 24 to enhance criminal penalties for people who knowingly commit assault or battery upon workers at a hospital. Under the law, those who assault a worker at a hospital will face a first-degree misdemeanor charge rather than a second-degree misdemeanor charge. 

6. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed legislation May 2 that increases penalties for people who commit violence against healthcare workers and allows hospitals to establish campus police forces. The bill provides for enhanced penalties for aggravated assault and aggravated battery committed upon emergency health workers and healthcare workers while they are on a hospital campus. 

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